Smith, 34, takes over as LMS president, replaces Wheeler

CONCORD, N.C. -- Marcus Smith was named the new president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old son of Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith also was named president and CEO of SMI.

Smith will replace H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, who a week ago announced he was stepping away from his position after 32 years.

"He is the right guy," the elder Smith said. "He's done such an outstanding job since he's been there. He's probably raised more funds for the corporation than anybody. He's by far exceeded the budgets of marketing and everything else."

Marcus, the executive vice president of SMI, was voted into the position by the SMI board of trustees.

"I've worked in every department at the speedway," Smith said at Wheeler's announcement. "I've picked up trash, sold tickets, sold souvenirs, painted plenty of walls. I've been around racing since I was a kid, and I love it, and watch it or listen to it on PRN [Performance Racing Network] radio every Sunday."

Smith expects to be a different kind of leader than Wheeler, who not only ran day-to-day activities at the track but helped develop the mental strength of young drivers in a boxing ring at his home.

"I'm not a boxer, but I've boxed with Humpy as well," Smith said. "We were in a gym somewhere and he just wore me out. He'll definitely teach you to keep your left up. He's great."

Smith attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he initially studied to be a doctor. He began working as a sales associate at SMI in 1996 and was promoted to manager of new business development in 1999.

He served as vice president of business development at SMI from 2001-2004 and was named to his current position in 2004.

"He knows what he's doing," Bruton siad. "I'm so proud of him. I've never met anybody that didn't like him."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.